Louis Jacolliot

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Louis Jacolliot (31 October 1837 – 30 October 1890) was a French barrister, colonial judge, author and lecturer.


  • “Land of ancient India
    Cradle of humanity, hail
    Hail ! revered motherland,
    Whom centuries of brutal invasions
    Have not yet buried
    Under the dust of oblivion.
    Hail ! Fatherland of faith,
    Of love, of poetry and of science,
    May we hail a revival of thy past
    In our Western future !”
  • In point of authenticity the Vedas have incontestible precedence out of the most ancient records. These holy books which, according to the Brahmins, contain the revealed word of God, were honoured in India long before Persia, Asia Minor, Egypt and Europe were colonised or inhabited.
    • In his original work, the Bible in India, Louis Jacolliot
  • — 'India is the world’s cradle : thence it is that the common mother in sending forth her children, even to the utmost west has, in unfading testimony of our origin bequeathed us the legacy of her language, her laws, her 'Morale,' her literature and her religion-Traversing Persia, Arabia, Egypt and even forcing their way to the cold and cloudy north far from the sunny soil of their birth, in vain they may forget their point of departure, their skin may remain brown or become white from contact with snows of the west, of the civilizations founded by them splendid kingdoms may fall and leave no trace behind but some few ruins of sculptured columns, new people may arise from the ashes of the first; new cities may flourish on the site of the old but time and ruin united fail to obliterate the ever legible stamp of origin. The legislator Manu; whose authenticity is incontestible, dates back more than three thousand years before Christian era; the Brahmans assign him a still more ancient epoch. What instruction for us, and what testimony almost material, in favour of the oriental chronology, which, less ridiculous than ours (based on Biblical traditions) adopts, for the formation of this world, an a speech more in harmony with science. We shall presently see Egypt, Judea, Greece, Rome, all antiquity, in fact, copies Brahminical society in its castes, its theories, its religious opinion, and adopts its Brahmins, its priests, its levites as they had already adopted the language, legislation and philosophy of the ancient Vedic Society whence their ancestors had departed through the world to dessiminate the grand ideas of primitive revelation.
    • in Shraddananda Hindu Sangathan, Saviour of the Dying Race (Delhi 1926)
  • Here is a short summary of the achievements of Old India:
    In the famous and recent work of Christna et le Christ, we find the following tabulation:
    "Philosophy. -- The ancient Hindus have created from the foundation the two systems of spiritualism and materialism, of metaphysical philosophy and of positive philosophy. The first taught in the Vedantic school, whose founder was Vyasa; the second taught in the Sankya school, whose founder was Kapila.
    "Astronomical Science. -- They fixed the calendar, invented the zodiac, calculated the precession of the equinoxes, discovered the general laws of the movements, observed and predicted the eclipses.
    "Mathematics. -- They invented the decimal system, algebra, the differential, integral, and infinitesimal calculi. They also discovered geometry and trigonometry, and in these two sciences they constructed and proved theorems which were only discovered in Europe as late as the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It was the Brahmans in fact who first deduced the superficial measure of a triangle from the calculation of its three sides, and calculated the relations of the circumference to the diameter. Furthermore, we must restore to them the square of the hypotenuse and the table so improperly called Pythagorean, which we find engraved on the goparama of the majority of great pagodas.
    "Physics. -- They established the principle which is still our own to-day, that the universe is a harmonious whole, subject to laws which may be determined by observation and experiment. They discovered hydrostatics; and the famous proposition that every body plunged in water loses of its own weight a weight equal to the volume which it displaces, is only a loan made by the Brahmans to the famous Greek architect, Archimedes. The physicists of the pagodas calculated the velocity of light, fixed in a positive manner the laws which it follows in its reflection. And finally, it is beyond doubt, from the calculations of Surya-Sidhenta, that they knew and calculated the force of steam.
    "Chemistry. -- They knew the composition of water, and formulated for gases the famous law, which we know only from yesterday, that the volumes of gas are in inverse ratio to the pressures that they support. They knew how to prepare sulphuric, nitric, and muriatic acids; the oxides of copper, iron, lead, tin, and zinc; the sulphurets of iron, copper, mercury, antimony, and arsenic; the sulphates of zinc and iron; the carbonates of iron, lead, and soda; nitrate of silver; and powder.
    "Medicine. -- Their knowledge was truly astonishing. In Tcharaka and Sousruta, the two princes of Hindu medicine, is laid down the system which Hippocrates appropriated later. Sousruta notably enunciates the principles of preventive medicine or hygiene, which he places much above curative medicine -- too often, according to him, empyrical. Are we more advanced to-day? It is not without interest to remark that the Arab physicians, who enjoyed a merited celebrity in the middle ages -- Averroes among others -- constantly spoke of the Hindu physicians, and regarded them as the initiators of the Greeks and themselves.
    "Pharmacology. -- They knew all the simples, their properties, their use, and upon this point have not yet ceased to give lessons to Europe. Quite recently we have received from them the treatment of asthma, with the datura.
    "Surgery. -- In this they are not less remarkable. They made the operation for the stone, succeeded admirably in the operation for cataract, and the extraction of the foetus, of which all the unusual or dangerous cases are described by Tcharaka with an extraordinary scientific accuracy.
    "Grammar. -- They formed the most marvellous language in the world -- the Sanscrit -- which gave birth to the greater part of the idioms of the Orient, and of Indo-European countries.
    "Poetry. -- They have treated all the styles, and shown themselves supreme masters in all. Sakuntala, Avrita, the Hindu Phaedra, Saranga, and a thousand other dramas have their superiors neither in Sophocles nor Euripides, in Corneille nor Shakespere. Their descriptive poetry has never been equalled. One must read, in the Megadata, "The Plaint of an Exile," who implores a passing cloud to carry his remembrances to his cottage, his relatives and friends, whom he will never see more, to form an idea of the splendor to which this style has been carried in India. Their fables have been copied by all modern and ancient peoples, who have not even given themselves the trouble to color differently the subject of these little dramas.
    "Music. -- They invented the gamut with its differences of tones and half-tones much before Gui d'Arezzo. Here is the Hindu scale:
    "Architecture. -- They seem to have exhausted all that the genius of man is capable of conceiving. Domes, inexpressibly bold; tapering cupolas; minarets, with marble lace; Gothic towers; Greek hemicycles; polychrome style -- all kinds and all epochs are there, betokening the origin and date of the different colonies, which, in emigrating, carried with them their souvenirs of their native art."
    • Jacolliot, Krishna et le Christ quoted in (Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled/ Jacolliot, Krishna et le Christ)
  • "The Greek," says Jacolliot, "is but the Sanscrit. Pheidias and Praxiteles have studied in Asia the chefs-d'oeuvre of Daonthia, Ramana, and Aryavosta. Plato disappears before Dgeminy and Veda-Vyasa, whom he literally copies. Aristotle is thrown into the shade by the Pourva-Mimansa and the Outtara-Mimansa, in which one finds all the systems of philosophy which we are now occupied in re-editing, from the Spiritualism of Socrates and his school, the skepticism of Pyrrho, Montaigne, and Kant, down to the positivism of Littre."
    • Jacolliot, Krishna et le Christ quoted in (Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled/ Jacolliot, Krishna et le Christ)
  • "To study India," he says, "is to trace humanity to its sources." "In the same way as modern society jostles antiquity at each step," he adds, "as our poets have copied Homer and Virgil, Sophocles and Euripides, Plautus and Terence; as our philosophers have drawn inspiration from Socrates, Pythagoras, Plato, and Aristotle; as our historians take Titus Livius, Sallust, or Tacitus, as models; our orators, Demosthenes or Cicero; our physicians study Hippocrates, and our codes transcribe Justinian--so had antiquity's self also an antiquity to study, to imitate, and to copy. What more simple and more logical? Do not peoples precede and succeed each other? Does the knowledge, painfully acquired by one nation, confine itself to its own territory, and die with the generation that produced it? Can there be any absurdity in the suggestion that the India of 6,000 years ago, brilliant, civilized, overflowing with population, impressed upon Egypt, Persia, Judea, Greece, and Rome, a stamp as ineffaceable, impressions as profound, as these last have impressed upon us? "It is time to disabuse ourselves of those prejudices which represent the ancients as having almost spontaneously-elaborated ideas, philosophic, religious, and moral, the most lofty--those prejudices that in their naive admiration explain all in the domain of science, arts, and letters, by the intuition of some few great men, and in the realm of religion by revelation." *
    • quoted in Helena Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled [1]
  • "My complaint against many translators and Orientalists," says Jacolliot, "while admiring their profound knowledge is, that not having lived in India, they fail in exactness of expression and in comprehension of the symbolical sense of poetic chants, prayers, and ceremonies, and thus too often fall into material errors, whether of translation or appreciation." ** Further, this author who, from a long residence in India, and the study of its literature, is better qualified to testify than those who have never been there, tells us that "the life of several generations would scarce suffice merely to read the works that ancient India has left us on history, ethics (morale), poetry, philosophy, religion, different sciences, and medicine."
    • quoted in Helena Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled [2]


  • More serious is Nietzsche’s uncritical reliance on the flawed translation of the text by Jacolliot, an amateur openly denounced by leading philologists like Friedrich Max Muller. Uncritical reading of this text led Nietzsche to quote mistranslations and later insertions in support of the claim concerning the Chandala (low caste) origins of the Semites, used to attack Christianity in TI and AC. Elst goes on to highlight what Nietzsche missed or omitted in his reading of the text, including not just the actual politics and institutions of the caste system, but also some striking affinities with his own views and teachings. Despite these philological blunders and misjudgements, however, Nietzsche seems to have landed on his feet after all; for in Elst’s view, he did succeed in grasping Manu’s view of man and society.
    • Herman Siemens and Vasti Roodt , in Introduction, in : Herman Siemens (editor)_ Vasti Roodt (editor) - Nietzsche, Power and Politics_ Rethinking Nietzsche's Legacy for Political Thought-De Gruyter (2008) p 26

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